In 2007, Square Enix president Yoichi Wada announced that Last Remnant would form the cornerstone title in the company’s efforts to build a new global audience. Designed to appeal to both eastern and western markets, the RPG has ambitions beyond the usual boundaries of its genre. We talk with Hiroshi Takai, the game’s director, and Yusuke Naora, its art director, to discover what Wada’s vision has meant for the development team on the ground.
EDGE: Last Remnant is a game designed to appeal to both a western and a Japanese audience. How has this aim affected your approach to the game’s design, both in terms of art style as well as mechanics?
Hiroshi Takai: We didn’t divide up game elements specifically to appeal to one audience or the other, but instead tried to give everything we did a global appeal. Some of the character designs might have a less orthodox Japanese look to them, but it wasn’t nearly as premeditated as you’re suggesting. That said, from a visual standpoint there are some things that you can get away with in western games that wouldn’t be so popular in Japanese games. Characters can be less clean-cut so, in that sense, we had a much broader area to work with than is the norm for games in which the Japanese audience is the primary focus.
Has working towards a simultaneous worldwide release affected the way in which the game has been developed?
HT: We’re used to making the Japanese release first before moving on to any international versions. For this game we’ve worked in reverse, recording the English voice actors before the Japanese and so on. Having to record two sets of dialogue and tailor each version’s lip-synching for simultaneous release has certainly been very hard work. But it signals a shift in Square Enix’s commitment to serving a global audience, so I think the effort’s been worth it.
What have you found to be the benefits and difficulties of working with the Unreal Engine compared to middleware you’ve used in previous titles?
Yusuke Naora: It was the first time we’d used the Unreal Engine, so work was certainly slow going at first. But as we got the hang of it we were able to do a lot of things that would’ve been harder with our traditional tools. That said, the decision on whether to use Unreal for future projects will be decided on a case-by-case basis; we’re not going into game productions thinking we want to use this or that middleware. Rather, we’ll examine what it is we want to achieve with a game and then decide on the best tools to use in reaching that goal.